COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Plans to build 70 affordable-housing apartments in Merion Village for people 55 and older will get a first airing Wednesday at a community meeting.
A disused processing plant on 1.61 acres at 42 W. Jenkins Ave. could be razed to make way for the apartments, according to a planning application before the Merion Village Association’s Oct. 5 meeting.
“I think it’s a great idea because it’s hard to find affordable places to live these days, and seniors are getting kind of dipped, in my personal opinion,” said Mark Moore, who was homeless until April when he left the Van Buren shelter for an apartment at Jenkins Lofts, an affordable housing complex next to the proposed site.
“I think it’s going to be a great idea. And there’s always more room for changing and improvements. Especially if it’s for the better, then I’m all for it,” Moore said.
Jordan Henderson, housing director at Community Development for All People, which made the application, hopes civic leaders want the affordable housing project too.
“We know that as a region we’re growing, and that growth is putting tremendous pressure on the housing market,” Henderson said. “And so there’s insufficient stock of units at all price points. There’s a backlog of 54,000 units that we are short, with regard to affordable housing. We also know that, year over year, we’re losing more units than we’re producing as a result of investor absorption.
“We know that our population is aging, and that a lot of the projects that are under construction right now are more targeted to families or young people — trendy apartments in trendy neighborhoods. So there is a tremendous need for affordable senior housing, and that’s going to continue to increase as well.”
Curtis Davis, South Side area commissioner, agrees this is a good use for an abandoned site.
“It’s been vacant for multiple years,” Davis said. “I think it’s a great reuse of assets on the South Side.
“I think we’ve done a great job as an area commission in the last 10 years of trying to do a mixed-use and bringing affordable housing to the South Side. And Community for All People is one of those partners that have been great on multiple different projects down here to meet that need.”
Davis and Henderson see the pressure on affordable housing as developers invest in the area, mentioning the $350 million housing and business project recently announced at The Fort.
Should neighbors and the Merion Village Association receive the idea well, there’s buy-in from the area commission, and city zoning passes the idea, Community Development for All People would pursue financing with an eye to groundbreaking in 2024.